Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Note on Irish beatifications and canonisations

[The following is an excerpt from a 2011 article posted at http://fatherdoyle.com/2011/01/05/thoughts-for-january-5-from-fr-willie-doyle/]

"...Let us look at the Irish situation. St Charles of Mount Argus of course stands out, but while we have adopted him as our own, he was Dutch, and interestingly both of the miracles for his beatification and canonisation were worked in the Netherlands. St Oliver Plunkett is of course Irish through and through, but his situation was slightly different as he was a martyr which symbolically makes his canonisation a little easier. Blessed Edmund Rice also lived and died in Ireland, and his beatification miracle was worked for a man in Newry in Northern Ireland. However, for a variety of reasons his cause for canonisation probably will not progress for some time. Then of course there is Blessed Columba Marmion who was a Dubliner but who became renowned as the abbot of a Belgian monastery. He is not widely known in Ireland. Then there are the 17 Irish martyrs who were beatified in 1992. Again, most unfortunately they are even less well known than Columba Marmion – one would probably search far and wide to find an ordinary Catholic who could even name one of them. (There is also the case of Blessed Thaddeus McCarthy from Cloyne but he falls just outside the time frame we are looking at, having died in 1492).

And that’s it. That’s the sum total of Ireland’s effectiveness in promoting sanctity since the Council of Trent. Of course, it’s not for the lack of good candidates. There were dozens of other martyrs from the penal times that deserve recognition, in addition to candidates like Venerable Matt Talbot, Mary Aitkenhead, Catherine McCauley, Nano Nagle, the three Legion of Mary candidates Edel Quinn, Alfie Lambe and Frank Duff; Fr John Sullivan and of course Fr Doyle himself. There are of course, many other worthy causes besides these. As an Irish poem says:

Why are saints so difficult to recognise,

In these days, not like in olden times,

When we had a resident saint in each oak-grove,

A holy well in each townland, miracles galore?

By the law of averages, if, as philosophers maintain,

And common sense agrees, human nature doesn’t change,

And we are the mixture as before, there must be

Saints somewhere, if only we had eyes to see

We should celebrate those who have already been raised to the altars, and today is a great day of celebration for our own adopted St Charles of Mount Argus. But we should also celebrate those who have yet to be recognised formally, and the best way to do this is by actually promoting their cause and making them well known, and in particular by asking their help in prayer. If we do not ask for miracles, they will not be granted!

Of course, neither Fr Doyle nor Matt Talbot nor any of the others are in the least bit insulted or upset that they have not yet been beatified or canonised! But it is we, and our country, that lose out, for beatifications and canonisations strengthen the local Church..."

[Information about the cause for three of the people mentioned in this excerpt can be found at http://www.legionofmary.ie/causes/]

Monday, May 30, 2011

On Prayer

...I think it is safe to say that no one can be a disciple for long without an active prayer life. What the Lord derides in this section boils down to hypocrisy. Praying in an exaggerated fashion so that others will notice and be amazed by the piety is not praying at all. Praying in a yada-yada fashion, running on and on, won’t cut it either. What is going on on the inside is what matters.

Prayer is relational and some of the best praying is done completely without words. Silence is necessary. So is openness. What happens when we pray? What are we doing? We stand in the quiet of our interior life and recognize the emptiness. We wait and God fills the void. I remember a story alleged to be about Matt Talbot. Talbot was a recovering alcoholic. Late in his life he used to spend long hours in his parish church. Supposedly, after observing him for some time, someone asked Talbot what he found to pray about all that time. He is said to have replied, “Oh, I just look at him, and he looks at me.” It is through contemplative prayer that the one praying comes to know God’s love and is able to “express” his love for God. Words are not required...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Reading the Saints

[In his homily, “Saints: A Sinners Guide or Ten Most Important Facts about Repentance,” Fr. John J. Lombardi notes the importance of reading about the conversion stories of saints.]

...9. Read about the saints: remember--they were sinners who became saints by God's grace and their human cooperation with Him. The greatest of these conversion stories include St Paul (overcoming his anger, religious triumphalism) St Augustine (paganism, restlessness), Mary Magdalene (transforming her sensuality), St Francis of Assisi (overturning his machismo and materialism); St Margaret of Cortona (against parental disobedience); Ven. Matt Talbot (a drunk who became divinized); St Phillip Neri ("Joyful saint", juggler and joke-teller) once said: "Lord, keep your hand on Phillipo, for today he may betray you." So: study how God worked in the saints and become one yourself.

Source: The entire homily can be found at http://www.emmitsburg.net/grotto/father_jack/2006/saints.htm

[The following is an except from an article on the influence of saints on the author's spiritual journey.]

"For This is the Will of God: Your Sanctification"

by Rebecca Po

...Many saints are not the most talented or intelligent; some are not even likeable by others. However they made use of whatever God has given and whichever situation they find themselves in – a vehicle to grow in holiness. St Francis de Sales said “Bloom where you are planted.” They felt with the same keenness, the weakness, temptations and weariness as anyone does. St. Bernard of Clairvaux had a quick temper which he moderated later in his life. St. Augustine in his Confessions said “Lord make me chaste but not yet.” He later struggled violently and victoriously against the cruel yoke of the flesh. Besides imperfections and weaknesses, some saints went through down right serious problems such as family and marital problems, addictions, among other things. St. Elizabeth of Hungry endured for forty one years her unfaithful husband and her prayers obtained his conversion on his deathbed. St. Gianna Molla chose life of the baby in her womb over her own life. Venerable Matt Talbot was converted from 16-year addiction of alcohol.